I’m retiring from blogging, but I’m still around on the Internet

This post is long overdue, though I don’t kid myself that it’s long awaited by anyone, or anything like that.

Blogging, at one time, was a wonderful thing for me. And it remains a wonderful thing for lots of people.

But blogging was always supposed to be a part of a larger writing life for me. And indeed, blogging led me to a larger writing life. In some ways, it was a means to an end, which is not to diminish the blogging itself. The means were pretty valuable.

Still, in order to do the kind of writing that feeds my soul, and, I believe, to do the kind of writing I’m called to do — the kind of writing I want to do — it became important that I stop blogging.

One thing I’m doing while I’m not blogging, is, for example, editing an updated version of the classic Mennonite More With Less cookbook. You can keep in touch with how that’s going by clicking here.

I’m not dropping off the face of the Internet. I’m just going to be using it in different ways. The usual suspects, of course:

and other places around the web, including at the Washington Post, Christianity Today, The Christian Century, The Englewood Review of Books, Books and Culture, InTouch and more.

And I’ll be speaking here and there. Follow me on these-here social media thingies to find out where.

In case you weren’t paying attention:

I post a lot of cat pictures. And pictures of books.

Time may come when I’ll use this ol’ blog again regularly as a commonplace book: a place to collect favorite quotations and sources, to jot down thoughts.

For now, though — as for a while now — this particular plot is going to lie fallow.

Fallow sometimes means fruitful. It just doesn’t always look that way.




How Social Media Are Like Willy Wonka’s Gum

Just 10 or 20 years ago, I could not have imagined how easily I could use social media—and applications like Skype and Facetime—to stay in touch with people on the other side of the globe. Decades ago, I wrote letters to missionaries on onionskin paper to keep the mailing weight low. Today, I send and receive such letters with the touch of a button. I can find and purchase obscure movies and books without leaving my chair. The Internet has changed everything. We can have almost anything we want.

Those who’ve read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—or who’ve seen the popular film adaptations—may remember that the gum experiment doesn’t end so well. Greedy Violet Beauregarde is so grasping and eager that she doesn’t bother to listen to Mr. Wonka’s warning (it’s “not quite right yet”) and chews away, turning herself into a giant blueberry at the end of the otherwise delicious gum-meal. I wonder if social media are something like that gum: satisfying to a point, but also harmful in unexpected ways.

Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 12.27.47 PM

Moving beyond the meal metaphor to actual meals for a moment, it occurs to me that while many different studies have indicated the importance of eating meals with others to our physical, emotional, and social well-being—and especially that of children—we often interrupt those meals by interacting with people who aren’t physically in the room.

{Taken from my most recent post at her.meneutics, which you can read here.}

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning for collagen lips…

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“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning for collagen-enhanced lips
The wretched refuse of your plastic-surgery-free shores
Send these, the not-yet-sexualized to me,
I lift my lamp beside the Botox door!”

On Fridays I’ve been posting some of my dad’s cartoon parodies, which of late have focused on the regrettably ubiquitous duckface that some young women and girls seem to think lends a sexy aspect to their profile pictures on Facebook. Here, the unimpeachably classy Lady Liberty demonstrates yet again that the duckface is the opposite of classy. Can you imagine the woman on the left described thus:

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.

That’s a heckuva reputation to trade in for what passes as sexy on social media, don’t you think?

{Happy Friday}

If You *really* Love Jesus, CLICK and SHARE!!! (and other abominations)

One of my favorite comments from yesterday’s post:

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 12.21.10 PMAmen, sister. I think these are even more annoying than those “Just checking to see if you will even read this…if you are reading it, comment and then copy this exactly and paste as your status update. 95% of you will ignore this. Just trying to see who my real friends are.” Sniff. Sob. Poor me!

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.45.04 PMNote how even Jesus looks sort of sad, like, “Please show me that you love me by reposting this inane meme that portrays me as a sad-eyed long-haired white guy?”

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Can we agree that these Jesus chain-letter type “repost/like/share if you REALLY love Jesus” things are just silly?

So speaketh my dad and I:


Are there other uses that Christians make of social media that strike you as all wrong? What are they?

Seven Deadly Social Media Sins

I teamed up with my dad to illustrate seven ways to go wrong on social media. (And I have done probably all of these things, just so we’re clear, here. I point the finger at myself.)  Please note that almost any of these can have a right and proper place, but these are the most common ones I’ve heard people complain about. So it’s all about balance. Feel free to complain about how much your neck is hurting, but limit complaints to once a quarter. Definitely tell us about your accomplishments so we can celebrate with you, but not so often that it just feels like all you talk about is YOU. And we want to see pictures of your baby: we really do. But maybe not three times a day.

1. “Look at my perfect life!”

We are so happy that you finally found that perfect vintage chaise longue to reupholster and put in the corner of your magazine-worthy living room. We are delighted that all of your children are above-average in every way, and perfectly behaved. We couldn’t be more glad that you are vacationing on white sand beaches.

It wouldn’t kill you to garnish your perfection with a sprig of reality, would it?

Sometimes, when we’re reading about Your Perfect Life, we feel like this:

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2. “Happy Birthday to the most sizzlingly hot wife a man ever had! Can’t wait to see you tonight, babe!”

Word on the street is that no one minds Public Displays of Affection on your anniversary, but that we’d prefer that most of your flirting not be available for public viewing. Because it makes us feel icky.

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3. “Just finished a marathon/benched many pounds/demonstrated my physical prowess in other impressive ways!”

You deserve a medal! And maybe you got one. But please don’t make us all shine it for you, at least not every weekend. Feel free to invite us to celebrate the big accomplishments, but beware of posting all your physical activity. We just don’t need to know.

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Closely related to “look at my perfect life,” but more tied into your own accomplishments or inherent intelligence/wit/fabulousness, beware the…

4. Bragging (even–or especially–covert)

I often do a little test before I post something. The test is “what is the sub-text here? Am I just boasting?” There are about a million ways to back-handedly convey the message: “I am awesome!” and we are all pretty good at decoding that message, so be ye not too sure of the covert nature of your operations.

Sometimes, you really are awesome. And when you are, you should tell us. But not too often, or we might stop caring.

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.23.12 AM5. “Look at my baby!”

As I said in the intro, we all want to look at your baby! But if all your social media interaction is limited to baby photo posting, we might start to look away. Sometimes, it’s because we desperately want another baby (or just ONE baby!) and can’t have one. Sometimes, it’s because we want YOUR baby. (Kidding.)

Sometimes, forgive us, but we’re just bored.

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.27.38 AM6. “Click to read about how the other political party is destroying America!!!”

You are entitled to your political opinions, and you should feel free to share them on social media. But do be aware of what you’re sharing and why. Are you just displaying your own affiliations? Are you trying to convince someone who doesn’t already agree with you? Or are you just stirring the pot?

Most of the time, if we don’t already share your political views, your political posts leave us feeling unconvinced and possibly irritated. Or nauseated. Like this:

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Finally, we have:

7. “My back/neck/sinuses/feet/knees/legs/allergies/stomach is (are) killing me!”

One of the cheeriest and friendliest women I know in the world confided that she ‘unfollows’ repeat complainers. “You complain; you’re gone,” she explained simply. I understand. Listening to complaints can be a real drag.

We don’t expect you to be all Greatest Generation on us and never talk about how badly your exploded kneecap from Iwo Jima still hurts, but sometimes, when you do go on about your sniffles, we start to think about the dear old blind veteran amputee we know who never (or, okay, very rarely) talks about how much it all sucks, but is just happy to get his cup of coffee and shoot the bull:

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.40.39 AMJust to recap: none of these are deadly in isolation. It’s just that if all your posts fall in one or another of these categories, we might start to click away.

This is not a closed canon of ‘sins,’ so…

What social media behaviors are an abomination in your eyes? 

Because we might be able to illustrate that for you.

{Besides ‘friends’ who share posts from their own blogs, ahem ahem? ;) }